A lot of people think of Twitter as a public utility, a public trust, “the town square,” a company with an important social mission that many of its users and employees and Elon Musk care about deeply. And its CEO and board of directors essentially can’t bring themselves to talk about it. When employees asked him about what was best for the company, Agrawal could talk only about the shareholders. Elon Musk is not at all embarrassed to say that Twitter has an important public mission, which is why he’s buying it. But its current management can’t say that, which is why they’re selling it.
I want to be clear here that I am not saying that it was a bad decision, for Twitter’s product or users, to sell to Elon Musk. I have no idea; that’s not the point. The point is that the board seems to have put almost no weight on these questions. … I have written this before, but the basic problem with Twitter’s management and board of directors seems to be that they do not care about Twitter, as a company or as a product, so they are left to care about shareholders. This seems bad for everyone, including shareholders.
There are a lot of tech companies whose CEOs do not think this way. They are not all companies with “other legal mechanics,” as Agrawal said: Tesla Inc. and Amazon.com Inc. do not have dual-class stocks, and Elon Musk and Jeff Bezos have exactly the same duties to their shareholders as Agrawal has to his. But what Tesla and Amazon have are executives and boards who believe in what they are doing, and shareholders who trust them to pursue a long-term vision. If you ask Elon Musk about his decision-making, he would never say “Tesla is a public company owned by shareholders and I just try to maximize their profits.” He would talk about his master plan to decarbonize the world, he would talk about self-driving cars and rockets and tunnels. He cares about the product, not the shareholders. That’s why Musk’s shareholders are rich, and why Bezos’s are, and why Twitter’s are selling at $54.20.
From Matt Levine, Twitter’s Board Gave Up.